Celebrate at Manchester’s top special occasion restaurants

With a long-established reputation for its nightlife, finding a celebration-worthy bar or restaurant in Manchester isn’t a difficult task. From rooftop cocktail bars to lively tapas restaurants, the city’s buzzing food scene means you’ll be spoilt for choice when that special occasion comes around. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary or a date night, here are some fine choices to consider booking.

After making a name for themselves in London thanks to their mouth-watering steaks, this is Hawksmoor’s first opening outside the capital. Located inside a beautiful old Victorian courthouse on Deansgate, Hawksmoor’s sublime large cuts of steak – such as Chateaubriand or Porterhouse – don’t usually come any smaller than 500g which makes them perfect for sharing with that special someone.

The Ivy Spinningfields
How do you feel like celebrating? Arguably the best thing about The Ivy Spinningfields is the variety of sumptuous locations it offers across its modern two-floor space. Whether it’s cocktails alongside the enchanting greenery of its roof garden or an indulgent afternoon tea amid the handsome Art Deco stylings of their brasserie, The Ivy offers a seductive combination of glamour and sophistication.

Bar San Juan
Does food get more sociable than tapas? With its lively atmosphere and mouth-watering selection of small Spanish bites, Bar San Juan can turn leafy Chorlton into a warm Madrid evening for a few crackling hours. Whether you’re sharing croquetas or calamari, this is the special sort of place that brings everyone together.

Celebrate by painting the town pink at Boujee, Manchester’s most Instagram-friendly joint. If you really want to turn up the colour of your next big celebration, Boujee slays the rest of the competition. Whether it’s at their glamorous bar or the bright and airy upstairs terrace, choose from a food menu of sushi and small plates before getting the party started with a round of cocktails.

Peter Street Kitchen
Nowhere in Manchester blends the old and the new so exquisitely as Peter Street Kitchen. Set within the atmospheric walls of the iconic Free Trade Hall, you’ll be sure to wow your significant other if you bring them here for an anniversary or a birthday meal. Offering a mix of contemporary Japanese cuisine and fiery Mexican dishes, it’s all served on elegant marble tables amid gorgeous pendant lighting.

Covering everything from baby showers and hen parties to charity lunches and networking events, the glamorous Menagerie is the perfect place to celebrate in style. From floor to ceiling, it feels like everything is embellished with a sparkle or a shimmer, while the varied menu serves a range of finely prepared small plates. Enjoy the food, but definitely stay for the party afterwards.

Cloud 23
Boasting panoramic views of Manchester, a few fabulous cocktails at Cloud 23 takes celebrating to a whole new level. Perched on the 23rd floor of the city’s tallest building, the vistas from high up in Beetham Tower are breathtaking. Enjoy an afternoon tea in style, and if it’s an extra special occasion then upgrade it to include a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.

After winning MasterChef in 2015, it was only a matter of time before Simon Wood opened his own restaurant and WOOD is a testament to his award-winning food. Offering modern interpretations of traditional flavours focusing on simplicity and purity, this fine dining restaurant is bound to impress for any celebration. If you really want to push the boat out, then order the magnificent 10-course tasting menu with a premium wine pairing.

Tast Catala
Bring the vivid tastes of Catalonia to your celebration by booking in at Tast Catala on King Street. Opened in 2018 and led by award-winning Catalonian chef Paco Perez, Tast is spread across three floors, including a relaxing terrace and a more formal fine dining lounge. Made of fresh puff pastry filled with custard and lying in a pool of dark chocolate, the indulgent Xuixo de crema dessert is not to be missed.

Decked out in black with a lively street terrace, neighbourhood restaurants don’t come much cooler than Volta. If you’re looking to celebrate with a bit of style, head down to West Didsbury where Volta’s small plates menu is inspired by international travels and the drinks menu stretches from signature cocktails to a small but precisely chosen wine list.

Sicilian NQ
Small, cosy and friendly, Sicilian NQ is perfect for a special meal in a delightfully low-key setting. Hidden away in a quieter section of the lively Northern Quarter, Sicilian NQ serves up traditional Sicilian favourites such as arancini and caponata that taste as fresh as the sparkling Mediterranean on a summer morning. For the sweetest of desserts, finish off with a classic cannolicchio alla ricotta.

If you want to escape the bright lights of the city then there’s a ton of great options in Didsbury, but few can match Hispi. Chef Gary Usher’s third restaurant and famous for being partly crowdfunded when it opened in 2016, there’s a good reason why so many people were prepared to put their money in. If your celebration is on a Sunday, then you could do a lot worse than checking out Hispi’s stunning three-course Sunday lunch.

20 Stories
Exotic palm trees and smart canopies dot the expansive rooftop terrace of 20 Stories, a unique and luxurious bar and restaurant in the heart of Spinningfields. Offering cinematic panoramas of the Manchester skyline, an evening at 20 Stories with the city’s lights twinkling below will make your occasion extra special. And with an impressive list of over 600 wines to choose from, there’s something for every taste.

Settings don’t come more lavish than Rosso. Housed inside a Grade II-listed former bank on King Street with marble columns and white domed ceilings, this is the kind of restaurant you bring a special somebody to impress. And while this is an Italian, their menu goes far beyond the usual pizzas and pastas and you definitely won’t regret ordering their exceptional scallopine di vitello – sliced veal drowning in a delightful white truffle and Madeira wine.

Mowgli’s vision of Indian dining isn’t an intimate, formal experience – instead they aim to channel the lively spontaneous atmosphere of the country’s famous street food tradition. And it’s that vibrant style of dining that makes Mowgli perfect for a celebration of any kind. Jump into small fiery plates ranging from treacle tamarind fries to their signature bunny chow.

Visit OpenTable to discover more of Manchester’s best restaurants for special occasions.

This is a guest post from freelance travel writer James March. Based in Birmingham, he’s contributed to publications such as BBC Travel, Nat Geo Traveller, The Washington Post, Lonely Planet and Condé Nast Traveller. Find him on twitter @JMarchTravel.